Raptors-Hawks Preview

The Atlanta Hawks have been getting solid production from a

number of players since All-Star center Al Horford was hurt.

The slumping Toronto Raptors need someone to step up if injured

center Andrea Bargnani remains out.

Atlanta goes for its fifth straight victory in this series

Monday when the Raptors try to end a season-high four-game losing

streak.

With Horford sidelined at least three months after suffering a

torn left pectoral muscle in Wednesday’s 96-84 loss at Indiana, the

Hawks (9-4) have a major hole to fill. So far, Atlanta hasn’t

missed a beat, routing Charlotte 111-81 on Thursday before rallying

from 18 points down in the third quarter Saturday for a 93-91 win

over Minnesota.

Ivan Johnson, Willie Green and Vladimir Radmanovic combined for

14 points off the bench during a 24-2 Hawks run that bridged the

third and fourth quarters.

“I just thought it was a really gutsy performance by our guys,

particularly the guys that came off the bench, Ivan Johnson, Willie

Green – I thought he did a phenomenal job in spearheading that

comeback,” coach Larry Drew said. “… That’s where it all begins

with us. If we’re not playing with energy, we can’t expect positive

results. But it’s just a gutsy performance.”

Johnson, who hit the clinching free throws with 4.6 seconds

left, finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Green scored all

10 of his points in the final 12 minutes.

The two have combined for 43 of the team’s 51 bench points in

the last two games.

Joe Johnson, who finished with a season-high 37 points in

Toronto’s last visit – a 100-87 Hawks victory on Feb. 2 – leads

Atlanta with 48 points in two games without Horford.

Josh Smith is averaging 19.0 and 10.5 rebounds in those

contests, while point guard Jeff Teague is adding 18.0 points and

8.5 assists per game.

The Hawks will go for a fourth straight home win overall and

seventh in a row over the Raptors there.

Toronto (4-9) is in the middle of a three-game trip following

Saturday’s 77-64 loss against Chicago.

The Raptors starting frontcourt of Amir Johnson (13 rebounds),

Rasual Butler and Ed Davis combined for eight points and missed 13

of 17 shots.

“With Andrea out, we didn’t have a low-post presence,” coach

Dwane Casey said.

It’s uncertain if Bargnani, the team leader with 22.3 points per

game, will play Monday after missing two games with a strained left

calf.

“Andrea Bargnani adds so much when he’s on the court. It’s tough

not having him, but we have to fight it out,” DeMar DeRozan told

the Raptors’ official Twitter account.

The Raptors would likely be in a better position if forward

James Johnson were available off the bench, but he’s also

questionable after leaving Saturday’s game with a sprained right

ankle. He finished with 12 points.

No matter who’s ready to go, Toronto needs to keep taking care

of the ball. The team committed a season-low nine turnovers

Saturday after averaging 19.3 in its previous three games.

“Thats’ something that we have to continue to do to give

ourselves a chance,” Casey said.

DeRozan is scoring 17.0 points per game on 51.3 percent shooting

from the field in the last three, but he averaged just 12.7 as

Toronto went 0-3 versus Atlanta in 2010-11.

Jose Calderon averaged 8.3 points and 8.0 assists in those

losses – the first time the Raptors were swept in the season series

since 1997-98.